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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Watch List QB Barker looking hard at SEC

By Jared Shanker

It’s normal practice for high school football players to wake up before school starts and get in an early workout. But Watch List quarterback Drew Barker (Hebron, Ky./Conner) is going beyond that. In addition to working out, Barker is also throwing routes before school.

“I’ve been throwing for about three weeks, took a little time off,” Barker said. “I wake up and go in at 5 [a.m.] and do the workouts and all that. I’m working my release, making it as compact as possible, always trying to work on accuracy and footwork and drops.”

The throwing sessions are paying off as Barker said every coach to come in and watch him throw has offered. In all, 11 programs have offered the 6-foot-4, 205-pound quarterback. The most recent offer for Barker came two weeks ago when the in-state Kentucky Wildcats extended him a scholarship. The quarterbacks coach at Kentucky came to the high school and offered the next day.

It was somewhat odd Kentucky is just offering Barker now, considering he will be one of the top players in 2014 in a state that is not known for producing an excess of football talent. Barker found it odd, too, but he said all is forgiven as it is a new coaching staff.

“The new staff has been great toward me. The old staff, to be honest, wasn’t recruiting me at all, so I was turned off by Kentucky and started moving on,” Barker said. “But the new staff said, 'Don’t hold any grudge; it’s new and just come with an open mind.' ”

Barker went down to Lexington for a visit and had a positive experience. The coaching staff has come to his school every week, too, including a stop from head coach Mark Stoops on Monday.

“They’re letting me know I’m their No. 1 guy,” Barker said. “They’re not talking the talk but walking the walk.”

South Carolina was one of the first offers for Barker, and he maintains a very strong relationship with Gamecocks coaches. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus was at his high school Tuesday, and in April he will visit South Carolina for its spring game. It will be his third time visiting Columbia, S.C.

Two new SEC teams have entered the fold for Barker as well. He spoke with Georgia assistant Mike Bobo recently.

“They told me they want me to come down [for a visit],” Barker said. “They’re definitely a school I’ve been interested in, definitely piqued my interest, and they’re always a contender so I want to see what’s going on and hopefully I can make that [visit] happen and an offer would be great.”

LSU assistant coach Steve Kragthorpe and Barker got in touch Monday. He said the conversation went similarly, and LSU wants him to visit Baton Rouge, La., sometime in the coming months for a spring practice. Kragthorpe told Barker the Tigers will not offer a quarterback unless he visits the campus.

“He wants me to watch him coach and get a feel for him,” Barker said. “He wants to be around me. If I’m that interested, he told me I should come down and meet with them all.”

A decision will likely come in late April or early May, although Barker is not naming favorites. He said he will make several visits coming up and go from there. The only set visit for now is South Carolina, but he added he will likely visit Tennessee the weekend of Feb. 16.

Ohio State and Barker have been linked by mutual interest since April 2012, and Barker has visited Columbus close to a half-dozen times. However, Barker said contact has dropped off with the Buckeyes and is not sure if he will make it to Ohio State again. The Buckeyes invited him to a spring practice.